New psychology research reveals the most effective pick up lines

Helen Lauterbach, Contributing Writer

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New research published in the journal “Personality and Individual Differences” by University Professor of Psychology T. Joel Wade explores the effectiveness of pick-up lines by women and how that is influenced by women’s attractiveness. Sarah Coughlin and Maryanne L. Fisher, both from the Department of Psychology at Saint Mary’s University, assisted in the study.

Wade explained that his research grew out of previous research on the perceived effectiveness of pick-up lines on women. “Can I have your number? Men’s perceived effectiveness of pick-up lines used by women” expands on his prior research, as it also focuses on the appearance of the people using them, rather than only the pick-up lines themselves. “What the original research found was that a very direct line of interest was most effective, but that research didn’t take into account anything about the attractiveness of the individual or if they were dressed in a provocative way,” Wade said. 

Wade’s research also goes against the perceived social precedent that women do not use pick-up lines, as they do not initiate flirting reactions. “It’s more evidence that women are actually active participants in mate-selection, date-selection, et cetera, because so much of the information suggests that women are more passive and react as opposed to agentic,” Wade said.

The research focused on evaluating three categories of pickup-line: direct, innocuous and flippant.

A direct pick-up line, such as “I find you attractive, do you want to go on a date with me?” is straight-forward. An innocuous line, like “What’s your favorite drink?,” acts as a conversation-starter. A more flippant pick-up uses humor and creativity to grab the woman’s attention.

Wade hypothesized that direct pick-up lines would be the most effective and that the ways men responded to the pick-up lines would be influenced by the women’s level of attractiveness. A questionnaire was issued that featured 12 photos of women along with a pick-up line below that was either direct, innocuous or flippant. Participants then rated the effectiveness of the statement.

The results were in line with the hypothesis; direct lines are indeed the most effective on men, followed by innocuous lines, and then flippant lines. Additionally, attractiveness plays a more significant role than promiscuity, and promiscuity has absolutely no part in the effectiveness of the direct lines. Women who were rated highly attractive and highly promiscuous were overall the most effective, and those low in both conditions were the least effective. 

Interestingly, flippant lines were the least effective despite research on humor being highly attractive and a sign of intelligence for women — prior research shows that flippant lines users are even perceived as unintelligent by women. In the discussion section, the research suggests areas for future reference that would give more context to the findings such as one’s preference for length of relationship, and the consideration of personality traits in perception of the language of pick-up lines are two of those areas. 

In terms of future plans for the findings of the study, Wade says an observational study might be a viable way to synthesize the data. “One of the things that would be nice, but would be hard to do, would be some observational studies, but those require a lot of time and even then, you might get unnatural behavior. But an observational study maybe that is something down the line to do,” Wade said. 

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